Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Happy Families

May 14th, 2015

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BCM 2013 - 2In the vocabulary of wine and wine making a word that crops up quite frequently is ‘tradition’. Whether it be used to describe a method of vinification handed down through the generations, or perhaps the ownership of a property that passes from father to son (or daughter), it appears quite frequently, and in many cases is promoted as a guarantee of quality. Of course from a wine making point of view, it’s also very important to respect traditions, despite the fact that they are often protected by the rules of Denomination or Appellation. Having said that, innovation is perhaps, equally as important – we can never afford to sit back on our laurels and let the rest of the (wine) world pass us by.

So, what about families? How important is it that you deal with the founders of a business or their descendants? In every country there are famous names, dynasties if you like – Antinori of Italy, Vega Sicilia and Torres of Spain, Château Mouton Rothschild, Famille Perrin and Joseph Drouhin of France and Egon Muller Scharzhof of Germany. The question is, do they really make better wines?

Perhaps family ownership is a bit of a romantic notion, but these days one of the harsh realities is that an increasing number of family estates are slowly and inexorably being swallowed up by the ‘big boys’ of the wine world. Without naming names, there are now quite a few mid to large-sized bodegas here in our own denomination that are owned by Companies from outside our region (many from Rioja), leaving very few that are owned and managed by the founding families. Of course Castro Martin is one such example of this, as Angela and I run this family business in a very ‘hands on’ style – never afraid to roll our sleeves up and get our hands dirty. During the harvest, we are right in the thick of it, and by the end of each campaign we really start to feel our age! Exhausted is another description.

I suppose the difference is, that in a family business (and yes, we do have a wine that we call Family Estate Selection), we treat every wine that we make as one of our children, watching it grow and evolve quite literally from bud to bottle. It gives us immense pleasure to prepare pallets to be delivered to different corners of the world knowing that thousands of different consumers, from many different walks of life, will hopefully be enjoying the ‘fruits’ of our labour.

Family tradition? Yes, it matters!

Posted in Bodega, History, People

BCM 2013The Bodega Castro Martin label that we have been using until now, was the original design that we created for the very first vintage of this brand back in 2002. It is quite unusual for any label to survive for so long without even the slightest modification, but we unwittingly created such a ‘timeless’ design that even now it does not looked in the least bit dated. This doesn’t mean however, that the time for change doesn’t eventually arrive, and so last year we set about working on an upate – very much with the 2013 vintage in mind.

The design brief was to try to come up with another classic design that would also stand the test of time. Of course, being our premium brand we also wanted the label to exhibit an aura of quality, and so it was never going to be an easy exercise.

Our new 2013 Bodega Castro Martin (Family Estate Selection) is only now starting to appear on the market as customers take their first shipments of the new vintage, and so we anxiously await the initial reaction. Please take a moment to examine this new label closely and notice the attention to detail – the raised screen printing, the gold foil with shadow outline, and the embossed border. It certainly looks minimalist, but I can tell you that a great deal of thought went into the final design. We really hope that you like it!

Posted in History, Labels

CC 2012En 1981, tras muchos años persiguiendo su sueño de “hacer algo mejor y diferente”, en la elaboración de nuestros vinos albariños, mi padre, D. Domingo Martín Morales, dio comienzo a la construcción de BODEGAS CASTRO MARTIN, la primera bodega con todas sus instalaciones y envases de elaboración y conservación del vino, fabricadas en “acero inoxidable”. Algo que hoy parece tan obvio en una bodega, en aquel momento no dejaba de ser una absoluta “locura” para los lugareños.  Y no sólo fue la primera bodega en nuestra Denominación de Origen Rías Baixas (aún sin fundar hasta el año 1988!!!, y que este año celebra también su 25º Aniversario), sino la primera en Galicia ¡!  Por supuesto, que había cientos de pequeñas bodegas familiares por toda la región, pero todas y cada una de ellas utilizaban diferentes depósitos de madera y algún que otro envase de poliéster o cemento … pero nada en acero inoxidable ¡!!

Así, la pionera visión de futuro de mi padre logró que llegáramos a tiempo a nuestra vendimia en 1982, vendimia que aún perdura en mi recuerdo como una de las mejores de todos estos años; hecho que quizás nos animó a seguir “por el camino del esfuerzo, superación e innovación constantes” en la elaboración de nuestros “queridos vinos” …

Hoy, mi padre no está, pero su legado sigue intacto, y, actualmente, su “sueño” llega a cuatro Continentes, viajando en 1ª Clase de British Airways, en Cruceros de Lujo – como el “Queen Mary 2”, o compitiendo en las pasadas Olimpiadas de Londres 2012, entre algunas de sus prestigiosas hazañas ¡!!!  …

Así que, es un honor para nosotros y  nos llena de enorme orgullo el poder presentar este año, nuestra Cosecha 2012, coincidiendo con nuestro 30ºAniversario

Deseamos que lo celebren y lo disfruten con nosotros, y que en los tiempos que corren, nuestro albariño Casal Caeiro 2012, llene las expectativas, tanto las suyas como las nuestras, con Espíritu positivo y con la fuerza y la ilusión, que hace 30 años impulsó a nuestro Fundador a creer y trabajar en sus sueños … creyendo siempre que con esfuerzo y tesón, todo es posible y no hay nada inalcanzable …

Salud y Suerte para todos ustedes … y brindemos con nuestra nueva cosecha de albariño CASAL CAEIRO “Sobre Lías” 2012 – 30º Aniversario ¡!!!

Posted in Bodega, History

Big Hair Day

November 7th, 2012

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There is a serious side to today’s photo – taken in April 1983. It shows a delivery of  ‘abono’ (natural fertilizer) being made to one of our vineyards. We always explain to our customers that we only use the most Eco-friendly treatments on our soils, and this is proof (if it were needed) that we have been following this practice for many years. Of course the ox carts have been replaced by tractors these days, but very occasionally you might still see one on one our small country roads.

The thing which has changed is the fashion. Here you will see Angela modelling her Snoopy sweatshirt with a lovely pair of M.C.Hammer trousers! The true historians among you will know that these super baggy trousers were not actually made famous until the very end of the 1980’s, and so it could be that my wife was very much a trend setter at this time. It is also possible that the ‘big hair’ look was influenced by the TV series Charlie’s Angels, or perhaps the film Saturday Night Fever – quite frankly I’m too afraid to ask!

Posted in History, People

Amidst all the excitement of starting the 2012 harvest yesterday, I forgot to mention that this year celebrates our 30th harvest in the current Castro Martin bodega. Although it was actually constructed in 1981, the first vintage was not produced until 1982. At that time our cellar was certainly one of the biggest in the area, and also the first to employ stainless steel tanks in the winemaking. Not so remarkable you might think, but it’s easy to forget that the denomination of Rias Baixas itself was not actually created until 1987. Not only was this a huge investment, but also was something of a major gamble on the part of Angela’s father, Domingo. It was a gamble that we would like to believe has certainly paid off, as our wines are now widely available around the world…..

In the meantime, back in 2012, today’s weather is fine and dry, again with a strong breeze, providing very good conditions for collecting healthy albariño grapes.

By the way, today’s photo shows Fran’s latest invention – a trailer! However, this is a special trailer made from an old, re-cycled chasis (saved from the scrap heap) designed especially for collecting grapes. Whilst we use large trailers and vans for moving fruit to the bodega, we still have to move the fruit from between the rows of vines to those waiting vehicles. Because we have an overhead canopy this means that there is limited headroom, and the vast majority of vehicles cannot enter between the vines. We therefore needed a special ‘low slung’ trailer to navigate up and down each row. Our multi-talented cellar hand Fran came up with the answer once again – not only is it a custom build, but we also saved quite a bit of money by using re-cycled materials….

Our second day, a Saturday, was busy by design. Again we worked hard to maximise the fine weather, and by lunch time the third pressing was already under way. We find that the secret to a smoother harvest is to get the presses working as quickly as possible, meaning at the other end of the day we will reap the benefit and finish that bit earlier too.


Posted in Harvest, History

The end of an era?

December 2nd, 2011

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Coming from the North of England as I do, one of the staples of my diet as a boy was Fish & Chips. Not that my family would eat them on a daily basis, but perhaps once a week, and nearly always on a Friday – it was a sort of tradition. In those days it was not that expensive, and I clearly remember that chips, for example, could be bought for a few pennies, and that the fish on offer was nearly always cod. The other, most significant feature of a Fish & Chip supper was the wrapping – to carry your meal home from the shop, and to help keep it warm, it was always covered with a layer of greaseproof paper and then completely swathed in old newspapers! (Today’s hygiene inspectors would, no doubt, be handing out fines, left, right and centre)

As you can see from the photo – newspaper has been replaced by polystyrene, and they even provide a plastic fork! In my era it was always newspaper and eating with fingers (this may sound a bit crude and uncivilised, but it sure tasted good!)

So the reason for today’s story is the shocking news that the world famous Harry Ramsden’s chip shop in Guiseley, near Leeds, could be about to close. A ‘cathedral’ of Fish & Chips, which traditionally had a permanent queue at the restaurant door, was built in 1931, replacing a small wooden hut where Ramsden started frying in 1928. He chose his site at the junction of two roads leading from Leeds and Bradford to the Yorkshire Dales. His business made the Guinness Book of Records when seating reached 250 and made the building the largest chippy in the world. In 1952 Ramsden celebrated the restaurant’s 21st anniversary by serving 10,000 portions in one single day.

Unfortunately, a series of takeovers and franchises diluted the unique atmosphere, and to be brutally honest, the quality also plummeted, so much so that the queues have long since dried up. Now the writing is on the wall, and the doors could close later this month…..

This tale might not seem completely relevant to our wine business (except that Albariño does go well with fish), but even so, there are still lessons to be learned for any small business – biggest does not always mean best, and maintaining quality should always be paramount.

Posted in Food & Wine, History

It was with some sadness, after more than 5 loyal years, that we severed our relationship with Blogger, and although our blog posts have been moved across (albeit not quite perfectly), we shall miss them.

By way of a keepsake I managed to find a website that can actually print your blog. OK, I know that this goes against the principal of a blog, but I still though it would be nice to keep a copy that I can simply thumb through from time to time, without sitting at my screen.

It’s an American company, imaginatively called Blog2Print, and although the process is not cheap, I have to admit that I was impressed with their speed, efficiency and overall quality. I think the whole process, from finding the site to receiving the 3 volumes that it took, was barely more than a week in total. Impressive!

You may recognise some of the cover shots from this website…..


Posted in History